Learning is not segmented, so why do we teach it as if it is? What I mean to say is, why do we teach concepts in compartmentalized “units” when this gives students a narrow understanding of these concepts. It inadvertently provides the illusion that concepts are independent of those covered previously or later in the year.
I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day about Science 7. We were discussing how to make connections between the Planet Earth and Plants for Food & Fibre “units”. Traditionally speaking, concepts are taught in units, with quizzes, a final unit exam and perhaps a project. However, if we are to teach our students effectively we should be creating connections between the “units” in Science class and concepts in other curriculums.
I began thinking about this when planning Year End Projects. At Panabaker, rather than students writing final exams, students create final projects. I love the way this challenges students to think deeper about concepts being covered in class. The other beautiful part about final projects is the ability to make them cross curricular. As the Math/Science teacher I was able to design a project for my class, which asks them to make connections between the concepts learned in Math and Science. It was when I designed these projects that I really began to think, why is it that the only time the connections are made is at the end of the year in a final project?
Next year, when I have my classes from the beginning and am not having to come in part way through the year and take over another person’s class, this is my plan. To teach the course as a whole, not segmented. Being able to teach courses from the beginning of the year will give me the ability to make cross curricular Math and Science projects throughout the year. Rather than students seeing concepts in class as segments, or Math and Science as rigid courses offered at two separate times in their timetable, they will begin to see the connection between them. The ability to make connections in their learning between classes and concepts will deepen their learning and develop a more holistic understanding.
Until next time,